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Does anyone have any data / tests that have been done to rank primers by make & hardness?

It seems like no one has ever done any tests comparing different primers to rank them from softest to hardest. The only info is word of mouth opinion which is kinda silly.

I had an issue some years back with a Tanfoglio 9mm Extreme 3 that I bought near new. The guy who sold it didn't tell me that it had light primer strike issue which resulted in misfires every 4 or 5 round.

The gun range guy said "try different ammo until you find one that works with the gun". Well I took it back to the dealer / importer and he said to do all sorts of things to the firing pin block and firing pin that did noting to fix the issue.

After sand papering and smoothing the guts with no gain, I tried different primers and was shocked to find that Federal Gold Match fixed the issue to 99.99999% The old primers were CCI which were extremely hard to dent.

I've got data for wall thickness, but that wouldn't be useful because you don't know the alloys used to make the cups.
 

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The Shadow (Moderator)
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There have been several tests done, that I've read over the years. One of which contained the image you posted originally. A quick Google search reveals several links, such as the one done over on the SASS site.
https://forums.sassnet.com/index.php?/topic/184266-primer-hardness/

So for over-coming a weak firing pin spring and how that relates to primer hardness:
As you said, no one lists the alloys, or hardness specs; and to think they would never change is a little misguided anyway. Hardness of the primer cup can be useful, but isn't how primer sensitivity(think mil spec) gets addressed anyway; it's anvil height off the pellet.

If you don't want to simply buy a replacement spring, then a real simple personal test would be with a Lee hardness tester; like was done on the link above.

Cheers
 

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"Apparently you didn’t look very hard, this can up after a 2-second Google search. You wanted “hardness” but is that the only thing that matters?"

REALLY? So, you think you found the crown jewels? So I'm stupid for not being able to punch a few keys on Google.... Wow. So silly of me!
 

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No Credible Source Found

So for over-coming a weak firing pin spring and how that relates to primer hardness:
As you said, no one lists the alloys, or hardness specs; and to think they would never change is a little misguided anyway. Hardness of the primer cup can be useful, but isn't how primer sensitivity(think mil spec) gets addressed anyway; it's anvil height off the pellet.
Thanks for taking the time to respond, I hadn't thought of using a Brinell Hardness tester. That is an interesting way to test the primers but one with a ton of variation from what I read. To do the test properly would require the hire of some expensive test gear that takes the human out of the process. It's the type of testing that you would expect a big ammo or gun manufacture to do.

Well, yes a stronger spring would fix the problem, but they don't make a super strong spring that dents CCI primers like a CZ P09 sledge hammer. That's part of the problem. (And a distributor that ducks and runs for cover when you show up, is the other half of the problem). I took the gun to a couple of armourer dudes who couldn't find a mechanical issue with the gun.

As it turns out, there isn't a problem with the gun. it's a case of getting a primer that suits the design mechanics of the gun. Maybe Italians use a soft Italian primer. No imports??

I didn't realise that primer hardness was such an issue, but clearly primers vary hugely in mechanical deformation properties. I was told "try different ammo, you'll find something that shoots well." But never why it would be necessary to hunt around anyway.

It's kinda silly, that the only information out there was done by a private shooter with a Brinell hardness tester. (Which I think is normally used to test lead / antimony alloys. Kinda low tech buy ingenious just the same) And the original info is gone and only a weak ghost second-hand copy on a forum exists.

What I was after was a study/trial by a credible institution (Ammo consortium) Clearly, that isn't in existence or I and "I searched Google for 2 seconds" would have found it :D

Am I the only one, taken back by that lack of CREDIBLE information? How many other shooters out there don't know about which primers are very hard and which are just right - soft? I don't know about you, but I like to know what Octane petrol I'm putting in my car and what hidden reason is that my f&$^# ing gun don't shoot right!!!!

So, all problems solved.

1) An interesting way to do a rough primer hardness test. (hopefully without losing a finger)
2) My Gun works great now.
3) There isn't any credible test data that we can find.
4) A lot of people discuss the issue online and have views, but it's all opinion and no empirical data.

Might be a really good video to do for Youtube (but expensive if you do it right.)
 

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The Shadow (Moderator)
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Well so here's some more thoughts for you, think you are over-thinking the hardness test.
Remember you don't need a fixed finite hardness answer, you need a relative answer for your pistol. Meaning if your test said 12, but scientifically it's 14; doesn't matter if you know what your gun digests relative to the test.

Keeping yourself from blowing up is easy, pull the anvil. Soak it in some oil overnight and it's dead and able to be fooled with.

It's been too long, but I believe Wolff gunsprings had a spring for one of my Tangfolio's. It's the same basic pattern as a couple other pistols, but my memory is vague at this point; sorry.
Had a few in my mitts over the years, and never ran across this (I Use CCI exclusively).

Hope you get it figured out.

Cheers
 

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I think physical hardness is being confused with sensitivity to ignition, which it affects, but which is not the same thing as two identically mechanically rigid primer assemblies with priming mixtures of differing sensitivity would not be fired by the same firing pin energy. So, I don't think a BHN test will tell you anything useful by itself. In addition, nickel plating on cups makes their surfaces a good deal harder than the metal underneath, further complicating such a measurement. Winchester went to un-plated cups on their rifle primers about twenty years ago because of complaints they were too insensitive. Leaving the plating off let them ignite more easily by lowering the mechanical resistance to the firing pin blow, but they also get more complaints about pierced primers now.

Because of the structural differences and priming mix differences, I think the only useful thing would be to measure the sensitivity of the primers as the military does. If someone wanted to set up to do that with samples of all the commercial primers they can find, I'm sure there would be an audience for it. I don't have the time to do the experiment myself at this point, but would be happy to advise on the design of the experiment if someone wants to undertake it. It would be based on the H-test used by the military to test primer sensitivity.

I addressed this question from BlackDog22 and the test method on another forum, here.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Nothing of a formal testing, but years ago, my interest peaked and decided to try a home grown test for the observed brisance of various brands of primers on hand for rifles. The collection included CCI, W-W. Remington and Federal. Cases for both small and large rifle primers were selected and primed only with the primers. These included both standard and magnum strength items.


Upon firing, the amount of flash at the muzzle was noted as well as the (apparent) loudness. The Federal primers exhibited the most profound flash and report of them all. They also left the most fouling in the bore. Wasn't much difference in the W-W standard and magnum primers. Remington was the apparent least productive in the muzzle flash/noise department. CCI's were pretty much middle of the road, although there was differences between the standard, benchrest and magnum units.


Again, this was merely what was observed without any measurement devices. My gunroom shelf and pantry storeroom still have combinations of all of them which get used without much discrimination as today the reloads are for plinking at 100 yd paper targets and the difference between the various brands and strengths seem to be small if any. Only use stick powders so ignition is probably equal for all intents and purposes.
 

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Always experiment when possible. In addition to sensitivity there is the amount of gas evolved, the brisance, and flame temperature. They all affect ignition and the military has some fancy equipment that can measure it all at once. IIRC, the primer is fired in a closed bomb, which allows the final settled pressure to represent gas volume. The brisance turned out to correlate to the peak pressure rise time of the explosion wave front at some specified distance from the primer. I think a special microphone determined that. The flame temperature and peak component was done by both IR and ultraviolet light measurements.

My own interest is a little less ambitious. I want to make up some 45 Auto case-size steel "guns" I can prime and shoot a ball bearing out of to get a chronograph reading of it. That will give me a sense of the relative energy in them. It used to be a lot of them had cooler-looking flames, then in 1989 they started adding barium and bismuth and aluminum and other spark increasing agents.

The color of the flame doesn't tell you to total energy of the primer, of course. A candle flame is brighter than a propane torch flame, but it releases much less total heat per second. But the bright white flashes do indicate burning metal dust, like aluminum, and that represents a molten metal spark shower than can help ignite resistance spherical powder deterrent coatings in particular.
 

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There was a very in depth article, actually I think it was a series of two or three articles, on all kinds of aspects of primers, including hardness, in Varmint Hunter magazine a few years back, maybeso 6, 7, 8, I don't recall. All based on tests. Very informative and subjective. They tested several brands, never claiming "best" or "worst", just the actual data. They ranked the primers as to heat, speed, hardness, etc., but let the reader determine the better or worst of the results. Don't know where you would find the article(s), but maybeso someone here has them?
 

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I would rather see a test of the amount of pressure/impact it takes to fire a primer than BHN of the cups. This sounds like virgin territory to me with standards/parameters/methods needing to be established. But for my 21 guns (13 Handguns) I have not had any primers fail because they were "too hard"...
 

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primers

Does anyone have any data / tests that have been done to rank primers by make & hardness?

It seems like no one has ever done any tests comparing different primers to rank them from softest to hardest. The only info is word of mouth opinion which is kinda silly.

I had an issue some years back with a Tanfoglio 9mm Extreme 3 that I bought near new. The guy who sold it didn't tell me that it had light primer strike issue which resulted in misfires every 4 or 5 round.

The gun range guy said "try different ammo until you find one that works with the gun". Well I took it back to the dealer / importer and he said to do all sorts of things to the firing pin block and firing pin that did noting to fix the issue.

After sand papering and smoothing the guts with no gain, I tried different primers and was shocked to find that Federal Gold Match fixed the issue to 99.99999% The old primers were CCI which were extremely hard to dent.

I've got data for wall thickness, but that wouldn't be useful because you don't know the alloys used to make the cups.
Federal primers used to be one of the softest primers and CCI used to be one of the hardest. Winchester, Remington and others fell somewhere in between. I've heard that Federal bought CCI and that both primers are now in the "in between" category. I don't know if this is the case or not. I've used Remington, Federal and CCI. If you have ANY problems with a primer find one that works for your firearm.
 

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Does anyone have any data / tests that have been done to rank primers by make & hardness?

It seems like no one has ever done any tests comparing different primers to rank them from softest to hardest. The only info is word of mouth opinion which is kinda silly.

I had an issue some years back with a Tanfoglio 9mm Extreme 3 that I bought near new. The guy who sold it didn't tell me that it had light primer strike issue which resulted in misfires every 4 or 5 round.

The gun range guy said "try different ammo until you find one that works with the gun". Well I took it back to the dealer / importer and he said to do all sorts of things to the firing pin block and firing pin that did noting to fix the issue.

After sand papering and smoothing the guts with no gain, I tried different primers and was shocked to find that Federal Gold Match fixed the issue to 99.99999% The old primers were CCI which were extremely hard to dent.

I've got data for wall thickness, but that wouldn't be useful because you don't know the alloys used to make the cups.

WOW. Yet another thread on primer hardness. Somebody needs to put a stake in the heart of this subject. All you newbs read the following and learn it. Please.

Primer cups, regardless of brand of primer, are all about the same Brinell hardness. The ONLY difference between primers is primer compound sensitivity. SENSITIVITY is what determines how easy or how difficult a primer is to ignite. That is a function of the chemicals used in the priming compound.

High sensitivity is commonly called 'soft' and Federal primers have been known for a long, long time for being easy to ignite. CCI changed the priming compound on their primers in the early 90s, making them harder to ignite (out of deference to floating firing pin weapons like the AR) and increased brisance to better ignite ball powders that have heavier deterrent coatings. That's why they are called 'hard'.

All other brands fall somewhere between the two extremes. That's it. Btw, the little dimple you get on the primer when chambering a round is due to the floating firing pin. That's why CCI made them less sensitive. It has nothing to do with the hardness of the primer cup itself.
 

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Federal primers used to be one of the softest primers and CCI used to be one of the hardest. Winchester, Remington and others fell somewhere in between. I've heard that Federal bought CCI and that both primers are now in the "in between" category. I don't know if this is the case or not. I've used Remington, Federal and CCI. If you have ANY problems with a primer find one that works for your firearm.
ATK is a sporting goods conglomerate, a holding company. They own Federal, CCI, Speer, and a bunch of other name brand companies involved in the sporting equipment and gun markets. All those companies are independently operated, however.
 
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